The 10 Most Counterfeited Products Sold in America

Counterfeit goods seized in New YorkAmerican consumers love bargains. But that zest for getting a coveted product at the lowest price also has an economic downside: It creates a giant opportunity for the scads of shady operators -- especially from China -- that specialize in pumping out counterfeit versions of the real thing.

U.S. companies lose at least hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales from products that are counterfeited overseas and shipped to America. The problem's exact scope isn't entirely known because most of these products are never seized and, therefore, the federal government can't get an accurate measurement of the economic loss.

To get a better handle on just how extensive counterfeiting has become, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection unit, the federal agency charged with enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR) within America's borders.



The CBP does so by seizing products that infringe the originals' copyrights and patents. According to the agency, "The theft of intellectual property and trade in fake goods threatens America's economic vitality and national security, and the American people's health and safety. Trade in these illicit goods funds criminal activities and organized crime. In Fiscal Year 2009, there were 14,841 intellectual property rights seizures with a domestic value of $260.7 million. Goods from China accounted for 79% of the total domestic value for all IPR seizures."

The first notable aspect of the data is the astonishing level at which China takes advantage of the U.S. markets. Some estimates by economists say 8% of China's GDP comes from the sales of counterfeit goods, from software to designer clothing.

In addition to the CBP data, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information from the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement, the International Authentication Association, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and PC World magazine.

The one thing that becomes clear from these investigations is that while counterfeiting improves China's GDP, it undermines economic growth in the U.S. The federal government can do only so much to combat the problem with current resources. Unfortunately, that means the erosion of sales in some industries due to counterfeit goods coming into the U.S. will continue.

Here are the 10 product categories, in descending order, that lose the most money to counterfeit goods.

1. Footwear
Value: $99.8 million
Percent of Total Seizures: 38%


Just under $100 million worth of counterfeit footwear was seized entering the U.S. in 2009, by far the greatest amount of any product. By value, 98% of counterfeit footwear originated in China. This was the fourth year in a row that footwear was the top commodity seized.

2. Consumer Electronics
$31.8 million
12%


Consumer electronics, such as cell phones, digital music players and cameras, made up 12% of all seizures worth nearly $32 million. China produces most of these electronics, with approximately $18.5 million worth of seizures originating from there. Consumer electronics are also the most popular illegitimate product coming out of Hong Kong, second only to China. They make up 40% of all counterfeit goods that are intercepted from Hong Kong.

3. Handbags/Wallets/Backpacks
$21.5 million
8%


Anyone who has walked down a major New York City street has had the opportunity (or several) to buy a fake designer handbag. The CBP seized $21.5 million worth of counterfeit handbags, wallets and backpacks coming into the country. This accounts for 8% of all seized commodities that violated IPR. China exported $19.5 million of these goods.

4. Apparel
$21.5
8%


There was only slightly less apparel seized than handbags, wallets and backpacks. The amount exported from China is also similar, worth $17.9 million. Counterfeit apparel is most often made to resemble designer fashion brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren.

5. Watches/Parts
$15.5 million
6%


lthough counterfeit watches are readily available in the U.S., over $15.5 million worth of watches and watch parts were seized in 2009. The majority of these items (just over $7.9 million in value) came from Hong Kong. The industry is currently flooded with replicas of every Rolex model available, as well as Panerai and Omega models.

6. Computers/Hardware
$12.5 million
5%


Over $12.5 million worth of computers and components was seized coming into the U.S. in 2009 -- almost double the amount taken the year before. It's a growing issue that causes several problems for consumers: Counterfeit computers and parts can work poorly, corrupt a user's data or even blow up. According to the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement, up to 10% of all high-tech products sold worldwide are counterfeit.

7. Media
$11.1 million
4%


In 2008, just under $6 million worth of media, including compact disks and DVDs, was seized entering the country. In 2009, that jumped to just over $11 million. Approximately half of these goods came from China. Counterfeit media is often referred to as "bootleg" media, and is widely available in street markets and for purchase on the Internet.

8. Pharmaceuticals
$11.1 million
4%


Slightly more than $11 million worth of pharmaceuticals were seized in 2009, most of which came from China. Pharmaceuticals also accounted for the majority of all counterfeit goods coming from India, making up 86% of intercepted goods originating from that country. Pharmaceuticals were the top commodity presenting "potential safety or security risks" according to the CBP. Pharmaceuticals account for 34% of all the items in this security risk category, which also includes electrical articles (power cords, lights) and critical technology components (networking equipment, semiconductor devices).

9. Jewelry
$10.5 million
4%


Counterfeit jewelry has a huge market in the U.S. In 2009, approximately $10.5 million worth of fake jewelry was seized. One popular means of counterfeit jewelry distribution is through online auction sites. Tiffany & Co. lost a lawsuit against eBay this past September regarding the sale of counterfeit Tiffany jewelry on its site.

10. Toys/Electronic Games
$5.5 million
2%


f the $5.5 million worth of toys and electronic games that were seized in 2009, just under $4.9 million came from China. Counterfeit toys have the potential of being extremely dangerous. Some are made with poisonous materials, such as lead, and others can malfunction and hurt children, such as electronic toys that overheat or even explode.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Banking Services 101

Understand your bank's services, and how to get the most from them

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

172 Comments

Filter by:
thegroundhoggyone

"U.S. companies lose at least hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales from products that are counterfeited overseas and shipped to America."

I'm wondering how much money is actually being lost here. While I'm sure that there is some loss, I suspect that most of the people who are buying these counterfeit goods wouldn't be willing to spend enough money to buy the real thing, even if there was no alternative.

April 10 2013 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erica1983

US customs seized more than $1.2 billion worth of commodities in 2012. Most of the products came from China. Check out this article from Global sources: US customs lists 2012 top fakes, sources of seizures

February 21 2013 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erica1983

US customs seized more than $1.2 billion worth of commodities in 2012. Look at this article from Global Sources : US customs lists 2012 top fakes, sources of seizures(http://www.globalsources.com/NEWS/US-customs-2012-fake-products-country-origin-China-020813.html)

February 21 2013 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erica1983

US customs seized more than $1.2 billion worth of commodities in 2012. Look at this article from Global Sources : US customs lists 2012 top fakes, sources of seizures

February 21 2013 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erica1983

US customs seized more than $1.2 billion worth of commodities in 2012. Check out this article:
US customs lists 2012 top fakes, sources of seizures(http://www.globalsources.com/NEWS/US-customs-2012-fake-products-country-origin-China-020813.html)

February 21 2013 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert

Counterfeited drugs from China!! should scare the crap out of any living person.

February 12 2012 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thomassachi

I don't think covering SEIZED counterfeit goods is an accurate picture of how big the market is.

According to Havocscope, the global counterfeit market is much bigger and profitable.
http://www.havocscope.com/black-market/counterfeit-and-piracy/counterfeit-goods/

The problem with seizures is that it only focuses on what cops and customs finds, and not on all the fake goods that are being sold around the world without cops finding it.

April 07 2011 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gwilkes2

Stevepennyclark.....lol...Nice post....We've become the biggest hypicrites since the beginning of time...lol..All of us in ways, (kinda hard to live in a society without a car, that pollutes the air we breathe, and several other examples i can give you), and pretty tough to buck the trend...But people will sell there soul today for anything...From the media, to politicans, to all.....And JLS, i find it hard to believe you can be prosecuted for buying a fake, expecially if you didnt know it was....Maybe in his or her case you referring to, they knew...And even then, i still find it tough that they committed any crime....If any crime was committed, it seems to me would be the seller...And what if the seller didnt even know it was a knockoff?...You might go in a store and buy an item that is a knockoff and neither you nor the store knows it is....lol....Welcome to 2011...

March 15 2011 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
realrambo

No one is being held accountable for reselling these counterfeit merchandize or assisting in reselling .
Should it be a crime it would a whole different story and Ebay among other would not be 1/5 of their size.
It will never change .

March 15 2011 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Antoinette

Maybe if US retailers didnt think it was ok to rape consumers by charging 800 and up for a purse or 200 for ugg boots that only last a kid 1 season, people wouldnt seek out counterfeits!! people arent stupid , they know it costs pennies to produce a louis vuiotton bag and most of it is manufactured in china or some other country with cheap labor ....
boohoo for rolex, ugg & louis V

March 15 2011 at 7:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply